Lebanon News

Suicidal thoughts and sexual abuse plague Syrian refugees

In this May 30, 2012 file photo, a Syrian refugee woman, who fled her house from the Syrian town of Tal-Kalakh sits next to her baby in Shadra village at the northern Lebanese-Syrian border town of Wadi Khaled, in Akkar, north Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

BEIRUT: An assessment on the impact of the humanitarian crisis on Syrian and Lebanese youths in Lebanon revealed the high prevalence of suicidal thoughts and sexual abuse among Syrian adolescents.

“Forty-one percent, often or sometimes, thought of ending their life and 53 percent never once felt safe in Lebanon. These findings reflect feelings of anxiety,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator Ross Mountain.

Mountain quoted a respondent from the survey saying that “he wishes a car would run him over and he dies, as he just hates the kind of life he is living.”

The "Situation Analysis of Youth in Lebanon Affected by the Syrian Crisis" report was launched Friday at the Phoenicia Hotel, with the event dedicating World Population Day to youth in the humanitarian context.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)'s report evaluated the humanitarian crisis in terms of shelter, education, livelihoods, health, protection, and social cohesion.

According to its findings, Syrian refugee youths are overburdened with anxiety and insecurity, with young woman in particular suffering from sexual harassment and exploitation.

“If you are not responsive or submissive to inappropriate requests or favors you are not allowed a break nor given water to drink while working sometimes for more than 15 hours,” said Mountain, quoting one female refugee who works in the agriculture sector in the Bekaa.

The humanitarian crisis has led to dire economic conditions, which in turn led to a high number of school dropouts -- with others forced in to early marriage in return for food, money or shelter.

“Syrian refugees are living in distress ... young woman in particular suffer from their living conditions, sexual harassment and exploitation, and other factors that are restricting their mobility and encouraging early marriage as a coping strategy,” said a UNFPA official in a statement released by the organization.

The report also pointed out that 66 percent of female refugees aged 15-18, have no knowledge of contraception -- contributing to high birth rates and large families. In total, 46 percent of Syrian refugee youth have no knowledge of contraception.

The report recommended all adolescents be provided age-appropriate and comprehensive reproductive health education in order to address the problem.

The number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon surpassed one million in April, of which 185,000 are aged 15-24.





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